By: Sue Dickinson
Isnt life fantastic? Even if there are problems at the moment, think of all of the wonderful gifts that surround us. We have the ability to visit museums and beautiful parks for little, if any, charge. We can attend movies and live shows for just the price of a ticket. We have the option to eat out at an unlimited number of restaurants, and choose from an almost obscene array of groceries at the corner store. And on top of all that, we have special people in our life that we can share our love and care with.
Lets face it, when we compare our lives to whats happening in the rest of the world, weve got it pretty good. Even just the fact that we have access to a computer places us in a tiny percentage of the human population.
But, does contemplating the wonderful blessings in your life just make you feel worse, or, at the least, a little uncomfortable? You are not alone. I have come to the conclusion that this happens because when we accept that we have it good (great even), we tell ourselves subconsciously that we shouldnt want more, and we are held back from achieving everything we desire in life.
I remember when I was a kid the adults in my life always told me to "be grateful, because there are kids in (fill in the blank, latest starving, poor country being covered by the media) starving and you cant even finish dinner", or some variation on the theme. To them, it was an attempt to get me to be thankful, but part of me began to believe that "wanting more" was a selfish and uncharitable thing to do.
I cant lie, personal possessions are a big piece of the whole "wanting more" concept. With an absolute smorgasbord of stuff available to us, it is hard to sit back and say, "Ive had enough". Do you remember Templeton the Rat from "Charlottes Web?" When Templeton visited the fair and saw all the wonderful food available to him (ok, it was trash, but he was a rat, after all), he couldnt control himself. He ate and ate and ate until his tummy dragged on the ground and he could barely move. Hopefully, we are not so gluttonous for personal possessions. But having a certain amount of possessions is helpful and satisfying in our lives.
However, there is another element to "wanting more" that we face every day. This is the psychological "more." It is an undefined nagging in our soul to "do more," to "be more," to "make a difference." For the most part, we all go about our lives, doing our jobs, caring for our families, and dont even recognize that the yearning to change is there. But, it is, just the same. So, although we may feel happy and content with our lives, there is always something gnawing at us, telling us there is more.
Each person experiences this emotional hunger differently. Maybe you wanted to change careers, but instead you took the "safe road." Maybe you have had a lifelong dream to skydive, but havent tried it because you are afraid of heights. Fear plays a big role in holding us back, and I have found that it is the activities that I fear the most that, if pursued, eventually lead to the greatest fulfillment.
For example, I have always been afraid of public speaking. I have chosen my career, my relationships and my lifestyle to avoid public speaking whenever possible. Ive also stayed away from management, because I believed that I wasnt "management material". While I find my life rewarding, you can imagine the roadblocks I have encountered with that sort of mindframe.
But, I finally faced my fear a couple of years ago and joined Toastmasters. If you are not familiar with it, Toastmasters International is an organization designed to help individuals become better public speakers, communicators, and leaders. WOW, was I intimidated the first time I got up to speak! Terrified doesnt begin to define it. But, as with anything you work at, it got easier and easier to stand and speak coherently (if not eloquently). And now, almost two years later, I have come to realize that despite the fact that I may never be totally comfortable speaking in public, I can do it, and in a way that others will benefit from my message.
And although facing my fear of public speaking didnt change my life by making me want to become Oprah Winfrey, it did change my life. First, I learned how much I like to prepare speeches (as opposed to delivering them), which started me writing again, something I havent done seriously since college. Second, I became an officer of the club and learned that I actually do have some leadership qualities, despite my previous misconceptions.
In short, facing a fear that I had opened new doors to me but not in the direction I anticipated at all! While I have no idea where my newfound skills will take me in life, I am up to the challenge.
Ill bet you are up to the challenge too! Although I dont know what it is for you, I know that you will find it if you allow yourself to "want more." Because, I have finally concluded that the endless desire we all have for "more" isnt because we are ungrateful for what we have or because we have a selfish need for the latest model car or more clothes. Instead, what we are searching for is the challenge itself!
I hear you. Its challenge enough some days just to make it through. But, deep down, something is prodding you to go for it anyway. It is all part of our inner calling to "want more." Not more things, or more money (ok, maybe a little more money). But to want more of ourselves.
It has been said that all healthy people look for challenges. If you arent facing a challenge you are standing still. So join me! Lets stop standing still and being spectators. Accept the challenge. Want more of yourself.
Sue Dickinson publishes the Unlimited Mom Newsletter, a newsletter dedicated to helping working moms recognize and value all facets of their lives their families, their work and their personal development. Visit http://www.unlimitedmom.com for more information.
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